David Silberman, 72, a retired executive director of the District of Columbia Association for Retarded Children, died Nov. 26 at Doctors Hospital here following a heart attack.

Named executive director of the association in 1967, he held the position until his retirement in 1974. He had been in the fur business for many years before beginning his work with retarded persons.

He taught psychology while attending George Washington University and earned a doctorate in clinical psychology there in 1971.

Following his retirement, he served on the association's building development committee and on its board of directors.

As chairman of the building committee, Dr. Silberman was instrumental in obtaining over $1 million in government and foundation grants for construction of new training facilities in Northeast Washington. In October, he attended groundbreaking ceremonies for the new building, which will serve over 300 mentally retarded persons.

Dr. Silberman, who lived in Silver Spring, was born in Chicago and earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1928.

He had worked in the fur business here and in Atlantic City and was a partner in Jandel Furs of Chevy Chase before beginning his career as a psychologist.

He was a member of the D.C. Mayor's Coordinating Committee on Mental Retardation and served on the committee on sheltered workshops of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.

He was active in the Kiwanis Club and had served as program chairman and secretary of the D.C. northeast division. He also was active in the local chapter of the Great Books library organization.

Survivors include his wife, Sarah, of the home in Silver Spring; two sons, David J., of Fairfax, and Dr. William, of Leesburg, Va.; a sister, Fannie Goldberg of Palm Beach, Fla., and six grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the D.C. Association for Retarded Children.